cj#807> Rwanda: it all started with the IMF… a perspective

1998-07-27

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

For many of us, the troubles in Rwanda began one day on tv, when we first
heard about inter-tribal atrocities, and saw pictures of armed bands and
refugee centers.  Little did we know, as the article at the bottom shows,
that US forces had been preparing the ground for these atrocities under the
sardonic guise of "human rights training".  But to get to the bottom of the
story, we need to go back to the destruction of the Rwandan economy and
Rwandan society, a distruction carried out systematically under the
auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

I found out about the IMF background story from a speech by Michel
Chossudovsky (Professor of Economics, Universtity of Ottawa) recorded at a
very recent anti-MAI conference.  (Thanks to Jan Slakov for the loan of the
tape).  He explained that not that long ago Rwanda had a healthy economy
and a peaceful society.  The economy was largely agricultural, and had two
segments, one grew coffee for export, and the other grew much of what was
needed for domestic consumption.  They weren't a wealthy country, but the
Rwandans worked hard and were doing all right.

Then along came the IMF, with a set of destructive policy directives, which
Rwanda was forced to accept, if it was to have access to needed credit.
One directive reduced the payments that coffee growers could receive,
reduced them to a level where costs could not be covered.  Thus in one
stroke of the pen, the entire coffee-export industry was destroyed, along
with employment of the farmers, much-needed export revenue, and any hope of
repaying international debts.

Another directive increased the retail cost of fuels, making transport of
internally-produced farm goods uneconomical -- again, costs could not be
covered.  Hence the domestic segment of Rwandan agriculture was thrown
largely out of business, as foreign imported goods forced local producers
out of the marketplaces, due to high dictated fuel prices.

Such were the inevitable and easily foreseen _domestic consequences of the
IMF-sponsored Rwandan tragedy.  The consequences on international markets,
which is what the IMF really cares about, were that competition was reduced
on the international coffee market, and new markets were opened up for
exporting agricultural products to Rwanda -- both benefits to the TNC's
that control gobal agricultural markets.  "Rob from the poor and give to
the rich" is evidently the de facto motto in the halls of the IMF.

With a destroyed economy, a massive increase in unemployment, few remaining
exports, and more debt than ever, is it any wonder that Rwandan society
would deterioriate, and that civil strife might ensue?  And yet the mass
media, with all its on-the-spot footage, and heart-rending reports, tells
us nothing of the root causes of the troubles.  No wonder, as the same TNCs
(Transnational corporations) that push the globalization IMF agenda are the
ones who control or own the mass media, and who pay for the adverts.

The media places the blame on tribal factionalism, or warlord rivalries.
It is always the _victim that is the cause of the problem, when its not
blamed on climate conditions.  Never is the actual culprit revealed --
unbridled capitalism -- because the culprit is the same one who brings you
your reports, your so-called news hour.

Did you ever notice how coverage of these events focuses on U.N.
encampments in the midst of chaos, along with footage of seemingly
leaderless uniformed bands.  Seldom are local leaders interviewed, unless
they can be portrayed as depraved madmen, and seldom is any local
government role discussed regarding the management of the situtation.

One gets the impression, and one can hardly imagine this would be
unintentional, that most of the Third World is in a chaotic state,
requiring constant help and attention from "us" to maintain order.

And do "we" ever "help"! -- primarily in the form of the US military
assistance, military "aid" funding, and a burgeoning international arms
industry -- aimed, it seems, at arming to the teeth anyone who can afford
to pay.

When reading a report such as the following it is useful to keep in mind
both the past and the future.  Re/ the past: whatever we read about now in
"revealed reports" has been going on for some time.  Think back over the
media coverage we received over the years, and imagine how shocking it
would have been to have known then what we're learning now.

Re/ the future: keep in mind that "what is revealed" is never more than a
fraction of what is actually going on.  As you watch news accounts, think
for yourself about what shocking real agendas might be unfolding, and what
might be going on behind the scenes, and why you're being given some
_particular spin-of-the-moment with the story.  There's much to be learned
from watching closely between-the-clips.


all the best,
rkm

--------------------------

By the way, let me say a bit more about Michel Chossudovsky.  He is a
compelling speaker, who communicates complex economic issues with a
down-home earthiness, and he obviously knows what he's talking about.  He's
been following events as an insider, so to speak, but with a human heart.
In collaboration with the Third World Network, he has published a book "The
Globalization of Poverty, Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms", which I
recommend highly.  The price, including postage, varies depending on where
you live, but the total seems to be generally under US$20.

I have the following contact information for the publisher:

        Third World Network
        228 Macallister Road,
        10400 Penang, Malaysia
        Fax: 60-4-2264505
        Email: •••@••.•••

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NOTE:  The article below (Thanks, Cesar Roberto!) is from a Washington Post
series on "special operations" training of military forces in Rwanda.  The
article seem to reveal some good solid information, rather candidly, but
keep always in mind you're reading the Washington Post, a mainstream
venue...  What is being left out?  What viewpoints are being given the
benefit of the doubt?  The article says for example:

    ...according to sources in both governments, the
    Clinton administration did not learn of the infiltration by Rwandan
    troops and officers or the extent of their ambitions until the fighting
    was well underway. Two sources in Kigali described the United States as
    angry and embarrassed at being surprised.

Is this to be believed?  Is there no intelligence-gathering component to US
operations in Rwanda?  Is there no insight into the goals of those being
trained?  Can we be sure the infiltration and the ambition were not
anticipated?

If the IMF regime is going to be destabilizing economy after economy,
throwing society after society into chaos, then there must be means of
"maintaining order", means not based on citizen support of the system.  Is
it possible events in Rwanda are going according to plan?   The economic
program was enforced, and the people are now fighting amongst themselves
instead of fighting to restore their sovereignty and economic health.  From
the perspective of the globalization project: "What's the problem?  They're
even buying more arms!"

Read the Post to get the raw facts, but keep in mind your own global
knowledge, and be highly critical of stated, or suggested, interpretations.
One can easily get the impression from the article, if taken at face
value, that such covert operations, though messy and risky, are essential
to help "those people" maintain order -- a helpful gesture on "our" part,
that "they" aren't able to respond to.

In that sense the article is ultimately an apology for continuing such
operations.  It lets the secrets out, bringing them into the realm of "the
thinkable", but leaves unquestioned the international arms trade and the
policy of widespread and ongoing US interference in the affairs of other
nations.  And most of all, there is no discussion of the impossible
economic conditions that have been imposed on the countries mentioned, nor
that such impositions are "standard procedure" in the world of market-force
globalization.

-rkm

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Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 12:30:26 -0300
To: •••@••.•••
From: Cesar Roberto <•••@••.•••>
Subject: 7/7 Militares dos EUA e o genocídio em Ruanda - Washington Post
Cc: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••,
        •••@••.•••

(Part of a Series.)

The U.S. military engagement here began in 1995 as an effort to help the
Rwandan army with its task of reinvention, both of itself and of the
nation's power structure. U.S. officials said they wanted the former rebel
army to become a professional force that would support the principles of
the democracy that Rwandan officials say they aspire to create.

Hundreds of soldiers and officers were enrolled in U.S. training programs,
both in Rwanda and in the United States. Rwandan officers went to the
United States to study military justice, defense resource management and
law of war and human rights. Scores of Rwandans were trained for land-mine
detection and disposal under the U.S.-funded National De-mining Office,
which was up and running in early 1996.

When asked in a December 1996 congressional hearing about the kinds of
training the United States provided to Rwanda, Ambassador Richard
Bogosian, the Clinton administration's coordinator for Rwanda, said the
training dealt "almost exclusively with the human rights end of the
spectrum as distinct from purely military operations."

But some Rwandan units were getting U.S. combat training, as well. In a
JCET program conducted by U.S. Special Forces, Rwandans studied camouflage
techniques, small-unit movement, troop-leading procedures, soldier-team
development, rappelling, mountaineering, marksmanship, weapon maintenance
and day and night navigation.

And while the training went on, U.S. officials were meeting regularly with
Kagame and other senior Rwandan leaders to discuss the continuing military
threat faced by the government from inside Zaire.

Hutu militia forces driven into Zaire had regrouped and by late 1995 were
launching raids across the border into Rwanda from the camps in eastern
Zaire, where more than 1 million Rwandan refugees still languished.
Efforts by the United Nations to send the refugees back home were
repeatedly blocked by the Hutu militants, who depended on U.N.-supplied
food and fuel.

U.S. officials agreed that the camps were a problem requiring a solution,
and had discussed several options with Kagame, including air strikes to
hit at the extremist bases, sources said. Information about the camps was
exchanged between the two countries, a Western military analyst said.

Kagame himself visited Washington in early August 1996 to discuss the
situation with senior Clinton administration officials. He later said that
he had been seeking solutions from Washington, but left disappointed. U.S.
officials said Kagame had warned that the camps in Zaire had to be
dismantled and had hinted that Rwanda might act if the United Nations did
not. They said they expected that Kagame might try something, but did not
know when he would do it and what form it would take.

Meanwhile, from July 17 to Aug. 30, a U.S. Army Special Forces team from
Fort Bragg instructed Rwandan army soldiers in small-unit leader training,
rifle marksmanship, first aid, land navigation and tactical skills, such
as patrolling. In September, dozens of other Rwandan soldiers received
training under the International Military Education program.

Clearly, the focus of Rwandan-U.S. military discussion had shifted from
how to build human rights to how to combat an insurgency. In 1995, a
diplomatic observer said, Kagame's attitude seemed to be, "I want {the
army} to get rid of that bush mentality. I want to teach them by sending
them" for training.

"But then," the diplomat said, "when the infiltration {from the Zaire
camps} started and you have the {Zaire} war, it got all out of hand."

Kagame's alliance with the Pentagon was not the only one he nurtured after
1994. He also remained in close touch with Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni,
a longtime comrade. With Museveni's support, Kagame conceived a plan to
back a rebel movement in eastern Zaire. He hoped to clear out the Rwandan
refugee camps, crush the exiled Hutu militias and deal a blow to Mobutu,
one of Africa's most corrupt rulers. Uganda contributed some troops and
materiel to the war effort, and Angola, Zambia and several other African
states later joined in. Laurent Kabila, an aging former Marxist
revolutionary, was recruited to head the rebels, who tried to keep their
connections to Rwanda and Uganda hidden.

The operation was launched in October 1996, just a few weeks after
Kagame's trip to Washington and the completion of the Special Forces
training mission. But according to sources in both governments, the
Clinton administration did not learn of the infiltration by Rwandan troops
and officers or the extent of their ambitions until the fighting was well
underway. Two sources in Kigali described the United States as angry and
embarrassed at being surprised.

"I wouldn't say they pulled the wool over our eyes," a U.S. defense
official said. "They acted in what they perceived to be their national
interest." He compared it to Israel's frequent incursions into neighboring
countries without advance U.S. knowledge.

Once the war started, the United States provided "political assistance" to
Rwanda, a Western diplomat said. An official of the U.S. Embassy in Kigali
traveled to eastern Zaire numerous times to liaise with Kabila. Soon, the
rebels had moved on. Brushing off the Zairian army with the help of the
Rwandan forces, they marched through Africa's third-largest nation in
seven months, with only a few significant military engagements. Mobutu
fled the capital, Kinshasa, in May 1997, and Kabila took power, changing
the name of the country to Congo.

U.S. officials deny that there were any U.S. military personnel with
Rwandan troops in Zaire during the war, although unconfirmed reports of a
U.S. advisory presence have circulated in the region since the war's
earliest days. Rwandan officials also bristle at the suggestion that they
would have needed any U.S. military support.

Still, U.S. military training continued inside Rwanda during the war. A
small contingent of Special Forces land-mine-removal trainers was in the
country even as Rwandan troops were moving into Zaire in early October.
Small Mobile Training Teams in military civil affairs and public
information were in Rwanda in early November 1996. Another contingent of
mine-removal trainers was in the country for much of December.

Another mobile training team and a mine-removal mission came to Rwanda in
early 1997 as well, although the mobile training mission was aborted
because no Rwandan troops were available. Rwandan army "operational
requirements precluded training," according to a Pentagon chronology. The
mission was to have begun on March 15 -- the day that Rwandan-led forces
captured Kisangani, Zaire's second-largest city, in one of the few actual
battles of the war.

The United States favored Mobutu's overthrow. But the Rwandan campaign
inside Zaire was often brutal. Although Rwandan and Congolese officials
have said their only targets were former Rwandan soldiers and gunmen, U.N.
investigators, private human rights groups and journalists have collected
considerable evidence, including first-hand accounts from witnesses and
soldiers, that Rwandan officers and troops participated in massacres of
civilians. For example, rebel soldiers and witnesses have said that two
Rwandan officers commanding Zairian rebels ordered the slaughter of
hundreds of unarmed Rwandan refugees who had gathered near Mbandaka, a
town in northwestern Zaire, on May 13, 1997, near the end of the war.

The U.N. commission later formed to investigate wartime abuses was
thwarted by Kabila's government and eventually abandoned its probe in
frustration. Nevertheless, its members did gather testimony about the
Mbandaka massacres. Its report concluded that "these killings violate
international humanitarian law and, to the extent that Rwandan officers
were involved, Rwanda's obligations under international human rights law."

Critics of the Rwandan army's human rights record say its abuses did not
end with the war in Zaire. They cite periodic revenge killings in Rwanda,
directed against Hutus suspected of participating in the 1994 massacres.
Other observers cite evidence that the human rights record is improving,
including a recent slackening in violence against civilians and the
prosecution of military figures for abuses.

Now conflict appears to be rising again as the Hutu extremist militants
who have returned to Rwanda following the war in Zaire mount a low-grade
insurgency that has spread from Ruhengeri prefecture in the northwest --
the extremists' traditional heartland -- to areas close to Kigali.

The conflict is variously described as a low-grade civil war or a
terrorist threat. A diplomat here said the conflict has sent the Rwandan
army back to some of its harsh ways. In the northwest region where the
insurgents had been strongest, the army's strategy is to "systematically
reduce the male population," the diplomat said, speaking anonymously.

Despite the concerns, a Pentagon team will travel to Rwanda in the coming
weeks to assess how the army is coping with the insurgents and what kind
of assistance the military may need, a U.S. defense official said. The
range of possibilities being considered includes combat and
counterinsurgency training, conducted by U.S. Special Forces or by private
contractors, administration officials say.

U.S. officials clearly still see Kagame and his army as a partner, in
spite of all that has happened in the last two years. "In terms of
determination, you can't underestimate them," the diplomat said. "In terms
of discipline, they're very disciplined. In terms of human rights? It's a
good-weather project. They apply it in peacetime, but now they have a
war."
        ___________________________________
        Special Operations Forces in Africa
        -----------------------------------

In an effort to increase the U.S. military engagement in Africa, special
operations forces, mainly Green Berets, have trained the militaries of 31
out of 54 African nations in such tasks as military tactics, light
infantry, de-mining and humanitarian relief. Some of the training takes
place under the hard-to-track Pentagon JCET program, which is supposed to
be a program to train U.S. troops abroad.

Countries that have received light infantry or other military training:

Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau,
Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda,
Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa (planned), Togo, Uganda, Zambia and
Zimbabwe.


Countries that have received training for demining:

Angola, Chad, Eritrea, Mozambique, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe.


Countries that have received training for a regional peacekeeping force:

Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, Uganda and Ethiopia.


Evacuation operations:

Special operations forces have been called in to evacuate U.S. citizens
from Liberia, Central African Republic, Congo (the former Zaire) and
Sierra Leone.


        Copyright 1998  The Washington Post

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